North Korean nuclear negotiators meet former US diplomats in Singapore

North Korean chief nuclear negotiator Ri Yong Ho (right) and an unidentified man walking through a hotel lobby in Singapore on Jan 18, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
North Korean chief nuclear negotiator Ri Yong Ho (right) and an unidentified man walking through a hotel lobby in Singapore on Jan 18, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
Former US envoy for North Korea policy Stephen Bosworth and an unidentified woman walk through a hotel lobby in SIngapore on Jan 18, 2015, during talks with North Korean nuclear negotiators. -- PHOTO: EPA
Former US envoy for North Korea policy Stephen Bosworth and an unidentified woman walk through a hotel lobby in SIngapore on Jan 18, 2015, during talks with North Korean nuclear negotiators. -- PHOTO: EPA
Leon Sigal (centre) , Director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council, speaking to reporters at a hotel lobby in SIngapore on Jan 18, 2015. North Korean nuclear negotiators met former United Sta
Leon Sigal (centre) , Director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council, speaking to reporters at a hotel lobby in SIngapore on Jan 18, 2015. North Korean nuclear negotiators met former United States diplomats in Singapore on Sunday for informal talks on the North's nuclear missile programmes. -- PHOTO: EPA

North Korean nuclear negotiators met former United States diplomats in Singapore on Sunday for informal talks on the North's nuclear missile programmes.

This is reportedly a follow-up to a similar meeting in Mongolia last May, and comes shortly after the US rejected North Korea's offer to temporarily suspend its nuclear programme in exchange for the US withdrawing its planned military drills with South Korea in March.

The US delegation includes former US special envoy for North Korea policy Stephen Bosworth, Intelligence and National Security Alliance president Joseph DeTrani and Social Science Research Council's director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project Leon Sigal.

Mr Sigal, who wrote a book on nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, told reporters on Sunday that the meeting is "two ways of taking each other's temperature".

The North Korean team is led by Mr Ri Yong Ho, vice foreign minister and chief negotiator for the Six-Party Talks. The denuclearisation talks involving US, China, Japan, Russian and the two Koreas have stalled since 2008, but North Korea has been holding informal talks with US experts in recent years. This includes the meeting in Mongolia in May last year, reported Yonhap news agency.

The Singapore meeting, held in a centrally-located five-star hotel, will end on Monday. The US will address the media on Monday afternoon.

Singapore, as a neutral venue, also played host to nuclear talks in 2008 between then US nuclear diplomat Christopher Hill and his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan.

changmc@sph.com.sg